I’m writing this post during the week between Christmas and New Years, with no access to the Internet, so it will be published when I get home. Every year at this time, our family goes up north to my in-law’s cottage on a small lake. It’s a really great cottage to vacation at, and I’m lucky to have such great in-laws who share this little slice of heaven with us pretty much as often as we like.
You know those days when the weather is really crappy and you feel “stuck in the house” and totally bored? Your kids get in a bad mood, and the whole family just interacts poorly? Imagine being up here at the cottage and doing that for a week solid. It would drive you totally nuts. So how do you prevent it? It’s easy … get outside a lot! I mean ever single day, hopefully twice per day, for at least an hour at a time.
When we go outside we do all kinds of things. If the weather has been cold enough for long enough, then the lake is safe to walk on and we can walk all around the lake. Sometimes we’ll just pull the kids in a sled. We can also build snow forts and tunnels of all kinds … the time just flies by when we are building things in the snow. And then there’s the trips out to the wood pile to gather firewood to keep the cottage warm. But my favorite part has to be taking the kids over to one of the cottage roads, which becomes a sledding hill when it’s covered in snow. What makes these activities fun is that I get to pretend I’m a kid again. My first responsibility is to take care of my kids and make sure they are safe, but beyond that I like to dig tunnels, go sledding and slide on the frozen lake.
When we play outside, we are all happy. If we dress appropriately we stay very warm. We get a ton of fresh air and we all feel great. We’re all getting plenty of exercise too, which is a lot better than parking our lazy butts in front of the TV all day.
We can’t get outside every day. For example, this week we actually had two solid days of rain. The first day it was more of a mist and we could go outside for only 20 minutes before getting too wet. But the second day it literally poured for hours. That was an inside day. The kids got cranky and so did the parents (yup, nobody is perfect). We ended up playing indoor games and making crafts, which was fine, but for a while we were all just miserable.
The whole point of this post is to provide some perspective on keeping healthy and happy. My opinion is that by getting outside and playing with your kids, you’ll benefit from health and happiness. Those are two priceless “features” that any parent can add to their own life by acting like a kid again, in the presence of your own kids. Try it. It’s also worth noting that to play outside has a price tag of zero. Last time I checked the world was in a major recession (some say depression) … so cheap is good.
If you have a hard time convincing your kids to get outside in the winter weather, I can recommend a great audio course for parenting toddlers that will teach you some fantastic language tools to help influence them. But I’m a bit biased since I wrote the course.
Enjoy your children,